How To Give Your Puppy The Healthiest Start To Life
Puppies. They bring a smile to the faces of everyone who sees them. Adorable, playful, and energetic, puppies offer us unconditional love, make us laugh, and entertain us with their antics. In honor of National Puppy Day (March 23rd), I want to share with you an easy way you can return some of that unconditional love to your puppy, while at the same time giving them a healthy foundation as they grow into adults. What is that something, you ask? It’s simple: feed them the way nature intended - with a species-appropriate raw food diet.
Raw Feeding Puppies
How Much To Feed
How Often To Feed
Let Your Puppy Guide You
The Raw Diet Itself
So, what does a raw meal for a puppy look like? Pretty much the same as it would for an adult dog, with adjustments made for the smaller size of your puppy. You might give your puppy a little bit of liver, gizzard, heart, and a chicken drumstick in one meal, then give them ground chicken and a little bit of green tripe, which is loaded with probiotics and digestive enzymes, along with other benefits, at the next meal. Remember, just like adult dogs, they should get organs, bones, and muscle meats, with about 80% of their diet coming from muscle meat, 10% coming from bone, 5% coming from liver, and 5% coming from non-liver, secreting organs (these ratios are over the course of a week—they don’t have to be balanced this way for each meal).
Types Of Raw Foods
You can feed your puppy grinds, chunks (parts of a whole carcass that are big enough they don’t try to gulp them), or whole prey. Remember, their mouths are smaller and they don’t yet have their adult teeth, so they might not be able to get through the bones an adult dog would. In general, whole raw fish, chicken, duck, and rabbit are doable for puppies to gnaw through. Turkey, lamb, goat, and pork might be more than they can get through until their adult molars (carnassials) come in, but they’ll still enjoy gnawing on the bones and ripping off what meat they can. Providing a variety of proteins and food types–grinds, chunks, or whole prey–will help ensure your puppy gets all the nutrients they need and enjoys the mental and physical stimulation that comes from learning how to eat different foods.
“Reading” The Stool
Just like with adult dogs, you can watch your puppy’s stool to make sure they’re getting the right ratios of meat, bones, and organs. You want the stool to be firm but moist. If you’re feeding too much bone, their stool will be powdery. If you’re feeding too much organ, their stool will be tarry and very dark.
Your Puppy And Bones
Even though they’re young, puppies still get lots of benefits out of eating bones. Of course, it’s vital that you only give them raw bones—cooked bones are brittle and can splinter, severely damaging the stomach and/or digestive tract. Bones are good for dental health and help your puppy naturally exercise their jaw muscles and bones. They also provide great mental stimulation. Remember what they say: “A sleepy puppy is a good puppy.” Spending mental and physical energy to gnaw through a bone will make your puppy sleepy!
To keep your puppy’s bone-eating experiences safe, make sure the bones you offer are size-appropriate. The bones should be larger than their mouths so they don’t swallow them whole. Also, make sure there’s still meat attached to the bone, so your puppy is forced to slow down a bit while they tear the meat off the bone. Finally, if your puppy is trying to gulp bones down at lightspeed, you can feed the bone fully or partially frozen. This will force them to eat more slowly. When puppies are young, they’re hungry, so they’ll try to eat as fast as possible. Following these simple guidelines will help keep them safe while teaching them how to eat bones appropriately.
Transitioning Your Puppy To Raw
If your puppy was on a processed-food diet, you will need to transition them to raw. This is usually a relatively quick and simple process, since they haven’t built up the toxins in their system that adult dogs have. For puppies, it’s a good idea to wait 4–5 hours from their last kibble meal, then feed them their first raw meal. Lots of people find that chicken is a great protein to start with. Stick to the same protein until their stools are normal, then you can start introducing variety (other proteins, organs, and so on).